On the relationship between quantum control landscape structure and optimization complexity

Katharine Moore, Michael Hsieh, Herschel Rabitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


It has been widely observed in optimal control simulations and experiments that state preparation is surprisingly easy to achieve, regardless of the dimension N of the system Hilbert space. In contrast, simulations for the generation of targeted unitary transformations indicate that the effort increases exponentially with N. In order to understand such behavior, the concept of quantum control landscapes was recently introduced, where the landscape is defined as the physical objective, as a function of the control variables. The present work explores how the local structure of the control landscape influences the effectiveness and efficiency of quantum optimal control search efforts. Optimizations of state and unitary transformation preparation using kinematic control variables (i.e., the elements of the action matrix) are performed with gradient, genetic, and simplex algorithms. The results indicate that the search effort scales weakly, or possibly independently, with N for state preparation, while the search effort for the unitary transformation objective increases exponentially with N. Analysis of the mean path length traversed during a search trajectory through the space of action matrices and the local structure along this trajectory provides a basis to explain the difference in the scaling of the search effort with N for these control objectives. Much more favorable scaling for unitary transformation preparation arises upon specifying an initial action matrix based on state preparation results. The consequences of choosing a reduced number of control variables for state preparation is also investigated, showing a significant reduction in performance for using fewer than 2N-2 variables, which is consistent with the topological analysis of the associated landscape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number154117
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number15
StatePublished - 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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